Cities are a place of coexistence, cultural diversity and innovation, but also one of the biggest sources of pollution. In fact, they are responsible for more than 70 % of global greenhouse gas emissions.
However, if public bodies follow through on their commitments, there is investment from the private sector and the general public is willing to do their bit, cities have the potential to achieve the 90-100 % reduction in pollutant emissions required by 2030 and to build much of the infrastructure needed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Many governments have realised that if they want to fulfil their national plans (NDCs) as part of the fight against climate change, they need the commitment of their local institutions to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Moreover, it is cities, not national governments, that are doing the most to promote initiatives against climate emergencies.
The most visible example we have of initiatives to reduce emissions is the C40 Group, a network that brings together some of the great metropolises around the world with the aim of leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future through climate measures.
But what exactly is the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group?
Commitments of the C40 Cities
The Climate Leadership Group, commonly known as the C40 is made up of a group of cities that have decided to join forces to reduce the amount of emissions responsible for global warming released into the atmosphere and to adapt to climate change.
In 2006, the Climate Leadership Group had 40 cities. Today, the group is made up of 96 cities, which are home to one in every twelve inhabitants of the world. Of these cities, 27 are already aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Many of them are already introducing measures to promote sustainable mobility, reduce emissions from construction work and adapt existing infrastructures.
Moreover, at the last C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen a few months ago, the C40 cities made five very concrete commitments to combat the climate crisis:
1. The Global Green New Deal
This new deal aims to reduce emissions from the most polluting sectors, such as industry, construction and waste treatment, with initiatives to ensure that the increase in the Earth's temperature does not exceed 1.5°C before the end of the century.
2. Good Food
Cities such as Barcelona and Lima agreed to implement a set of policies by 2030 that promote a healthier and more sustainable diet, focusing on reducing waste, prioritising organic produce as well as balanced and nutritious food in public purchasing, and making this available to locals.
3. Clean Air
In Copenhagen, over thirty cities committed to improving the quality of the air their inhabitants breathe, recognising that breathing clean air is a human right. With measures such as introducing low- or zero-emission transport, promoting cleaner heating and cooking fuels, and encouraging people to use bicycles, they aim to avoid 40,000 deaths per year from air pollution.
According to a report released at the summit, emissions from buildings and infrastructures could be reduced by 44 % by 2050 by improving the efficiency of designs in terms of the materials used, replacing high-carbon materials with sustainable ones, using low-carbon cement and reusing parts. Cities such as Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm agreed to drive regulations and design policies to reduce the use of fossil fuels in the construction sector and ensure that their buildings and infrastructures are sustainable.
5. Global Youth Initiative
The C40 Cities Group announced the creation of a global youth initiative that will allow cooperation between mayors and climate activists around the world with the aim of advancing the Global Green New Deal.